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July 10, 2014, 3:03 pm

Phys Ed. teacher gets students moving

In his second year at Hill Freedman Middle School, physical education teacher Joe Moore has revamped the entire physical education program of the school. Through units of fitness testing, introducing students to non-traditional sports and using virtual games to stimulate their interest in exercise, Moore says he just wants students to get up and move.

“[My passion is] the desire to make a difference in kids’ lives and the desire to encourage kids to be fit. Trying to get them up and moving. There is such a tremendous amount of issues related to health that are coming about because the lack of movement,” Moore said.

“I just do what I think everyone should be doing. When you’re passionate about it and an advocate for the kids, [I] just share my passion for being fit, for exercise.”

For magnet students, they participate in the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Testing. This series of assessments consist of a mile run, shuttle relay, push up and sit up test and flexibility sit-and-reach test. 

Due to the varied levels of movement between magnet students and life skills students, classes for the students may vary. However, all students get chances to interact with one another is the sports unit. 

Students are introduced to units of volleyball, field hockey, lacrosse, fatsol — a form of indoor soccer — European handball, basketball and softball. Moore will show a video on the history of the sport, where it originated and how it evolved over the years. He says the videos grab students’ attention and they gain an interest in the sport.

“The kids really take to it. There is 100 percent participation in every single thing we do. Coming from some of the schools I came from, that’s not always the case,” Moore said.

With the recent accreditation that Hill Freedman has received, Moore keeps activities focused on a worldview.

“Apart of being an international baccalaureate school, we try to tie some of the activities into other countries and cultures. Some of the girls want to introduce some of the special needs students to field hockey.”

Life skills students work on fitness and locomotive skills by working with medicine balls, stability balls and aerobic equipment. Students get exercise on the elliptical, treadmill and during a Tae Bo session broadcasted on a projector screen. Some students spend time in the sensory classroom and play with interactive virtual games.

Eighth-grader, Floyd Wilkerson spends class time burning calories by boxing. With his boxing gloves, Wilkerson air punches virtual targets projecting on the white board.   

Taylor Talbert, who is also in eighth-grade, walks around the room greeting classmates. She encourages her classmate Jamal Pettiway as he pedals on the stationary bike that is connected to an all-terrain vehicle game on PlayStation 2 called Baja 100.

After leaving Pettiway, Talbert plays Wii bowling. As she winds her arm back and points the controller to the television, she hits her target.

“I got a strike,” Talbert said.

“It really is a blessing that the kids have the opportunity to experience some of the equipment that they do. It’s awesome,” Moore said.

In 2010, when Moore began to work at Hill Freedman, he says there was not much equipment for students to use. He made a “wish list” of different resources he needed and Principal Anthony Majewski provided him with every item.

“Mr. Majewski has gone above and beyond with getting the things I thought was necessary to provide an awesome experience for the kids,” Moore said. 

“He’s got every toy. We’ve got everything. You won’t see this in very many phys ed. classes. A lot of kids will come out of their shells in his classroom. He doesn’t give up on them. He’ll keep trying,” Majewski said. 

By getting students moving, keeping physical education class relevant and introducing students to new activities, Moore says his focus is on the most important aspect — the students. 

“How do I go the extra mile? By just caring, letting the kids know that they’re extremely important,” Moore said.